The only private island in San Francisco has just hit the market for $25 million – but the new owner will need to be prepared for the conditions.
While the pricey land can offer much in the way of stunning panoramic views and gorgeous scenery, it currently has no running water or electricity.
Red Rock Island spans roughly six acres but has no structures and is only accessible by boat or helicopter.
Sitting near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, north of San Francisco, there is a sandy beach on the east side of the island, a rockier shoreline on the south and west and trails leading to the grassy and domed top of the island.
The listing agent said the new owner is likely to either preserve the island’s natural state or finally build something on it – though they will have to install electricity and running water.
Originally inhabited by Russian fur traders in the early 1800’s, the only known resident of the island was Selim Woodworth, former California Senator and son of the popular nineteenth-century poet, Samuel Woodworth, who built a cabin there and maintained a hunting preserve.
The current seller, Brock Durning, is retired and lives in Alaska, and said his late father was granted ownership by his business partner, who had purchased the vacant island for under $50,000 in the 1960s.
In the 19th century, the island was used for mining manganese, the mineral which gives the island its reddish colour – for which it gets its name.
There are still abandoned mining tunnels on the island, and there used to be a fog bell on a rock outcropping of the island.
According to the listing, the Coast Guard relayed to the seller’s father that they had ceased servicing the bell, and ownership was passed on to him.
The family lore suggests that the bell mysteriously vanished after a Chevron barge broke loose and, after a salvage company was deployed to retrieve the barge, the bell went missing.
Red Rock Island occupies three separate Bay Area counties, and, per the owner, San Francisco is zoned residential, Contra Costa is zoned industrial, and Marin is zoned General Use.
According to the seller, in the past, there have been proposals to conserve the island, develop it into a hotel, marina, or residence and to remove rock from the top of the island and use it for highway construction.
In the 1970’s, there was discussion about purchasing the island for building a Playboy Club.
There was also a proposal presented for the development of the island complete with a wedding chapel, geodesic domes, marina, and helicopter pad but none of these proposals came to fruition.
Estate agent Chris Lim of Christie’s International Real Estate said: “Red Rock Island has long fascinated me as a mysterious and sought-after gem in the San Francisco Bay.
“When approached by the seller to assist in finding a new caretaker for the island, I spent a day on this private sanctuary.
“I felt an undeniable connection to Northern California – the rugged landscape, unspoiled beaches, and the deep, mesmerizing blue waters.”
As a child living in nearby San Leandro in the East Bay, the seller’s family used Red Rock Island as a getaway and would pitch tents on the beach and go hiking and fishing.
The seller has lived in Alaska for the past 22 years and hasn’t been back to the island for a long time and decided to sell so that he has the financial means to take care of his mother as she ages.
The island is currently listed for $25 million.